Sunday, January 20, 2013

Evangelion after Fukushima (Part 4)

Günter Anders

This is Part 4 of the series. Part 1, 2 and 3.
There is a vital difference between the empty streets of ULTRAMAN or EVANGELION and the empty streets in Fukushima. In fiction, these empty streets demand you to kill your imagination. Don’t think about them. They act as bits of the propaganda, which coerce you not to contemplate. But, the empty streets in Fukushima demand us to imagine the absence of the society - lives destroyed, families torn apart, businesses crumbled, promises crashed, smiles forgotten, and hopes demolished. Parhaps we should remember, - as Hiroaki Koide pointed out - that this is much worse than war. After the war, you can rebuild the society again. This disaster is different. It does not allow us to re-enter the land of our own. The part of Fukushima is totally lost to us and remains so for more than 100 years to come. 
But still, we - those who didn’t have to leave home, nor have to abandon the normal lives, nor have to live in suspended anxiety - forget what it means and go on watching variety shows on TV.

They don't have an evil intent. They just don't have imagination. This absence of imagination creates what I call "Regime of Evil". The existence of evil intent is usually implied as force behind "catastrophe" or "disaster". However, today, the absence of imagination triggers those events.

- Jean Pierre Dupey, "We share the future - the world after Fukushima", SEKAI, 2011.9

Kiyoshi Kasai, when discussing Sekaikei, referred to "state of exception" or "Ausnahmezustand", the concept introduced by Carl Schmitt. Even though Kasai babbled a lot of nonsense and apparently just wanted to write something about CODE GEASS, it is quite important that he referred to this concept to outline his discussion about new phase of Sekaikei movement. One of the most alarming aspects of Sekaikei narrative is that it erases anyone, anything which it feels do not belong to the world it is describing. In this sense, it is fitting to paraphrase Schmitt's political beliefs to characterize Sekaikei's narrative. Schmitt's concept theorizes that, in the state of exception, such as war, natural disaster or revolution, it should be allowed for sovereign to override the rule of law. According to Kasai, the modern social contract is increasingly outmoded by global capitalism and new streaks of terrorism. Temporarily, this state can be viewed as state of exception. In such states of affairs, the old models for roles of individuals in "society" are no longer valid. Sekaikei's (and revived Sekaikei's) narratives could reflect zeitgeist of this generation. Though such analysis is ingenious, I felt quite uneasy while reading Kasai's discussion: he left out the fact that Schmitt's concept ultimately justified Hitler's rise to power. It is a logic of dictatorship. And I don't have to tell you how they erased people who they felt did not belong to the world they were building.

On the other hand, Jean Pierre Dupey discussed state of our minds after Fukushima, revisiting Günter Anders, Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas. These thinkers explored the minds of modern men, especially through consequences of hideous acts operated in Nazi Germany. Anders discussed the perfectness of technology created by imperfect humans.

So this is the basic dilemma of our age: we are smaller than ourselves. In other words, we are incapable of creating an image of something that we ourselves have made. To this extent we are inverted Utopians: whereas Utopians are unable to make the things they imagine, we are unable to imagine the things we make.

Anders considered a nuclear bomb was the ultimate form of such "Promethean Gradient", the inescapable gap between human and technology. He wrote an open letter to Klaus Eichmann, the son of Adolf Eichmann, examining the relationship between technology of extermination (Hiroshima or Auschwitz) and its creator.

... we shall then exist only as parts of machinery, or as parts of the material required by the machine: as humans, we shall therefore have been liquidated.

-Günter Anders, Wir Eichmannsöhne.

Dupey examines his discussion on the evil in relation to human's inability to imagine such a catastrophe. He asserts that this “impossibility” is not a product of chance, but is result of the fact that this state is inherently impossible to imagine. We were incapable of imagining the ‘evil’ (nuclear disaster in this case), that could reach the level as devastating as we know today. He stresses that we should refrain from understanding this "impossibility".

Somehow, this inability to imagine what we create is related to our ability to exclude the "unwanted", people whom you don't care.

Hannah Arendt coined the term, "banality of evil", referring to Adolf Eichmann's claim that he was not responsible for his actions as an SS officer because he was just following his orders.

Just as you [Eichmann] supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.

Adolf Eichmann at Trial (via Israel National Photo Collection)

When the power beyond our control becomes available to us, such as machinery of destruction (nuclear power) or system of destruction (concentration camps, Kamikaze pilots), we use it, overuse it and abuse it. Those who have authority to command such tremendous power somehow hypnotize public by magic words .... that such destruction would lead the nation to a new horizon. Without Jews, Communists and other 'Unwanted elements', Europe would be Utopia built upon German superiority. When you become a human bomb to dive into a U. S. battleship, you become the God, the savior of the Country of God. Nuclear power will create the world peace and clean energy for centuries to come. This kind of rhetoric weaves the ever-suffocating net of social dictum, depriving us of the most important human capacities of all, imagination. How do they achieve this? Through the control of information, through media, through education, through law.

When people think of propaganda during The Third Reich, they think of Leni Riefenstahl, or JUDE SUSS. However, if you check the list of films released in Germany between 1933 and 1945, you realize very few were indeed openly political films and the majority was escapist entertainment. By providing waves after waves of escapism, Nazi political machine was able to sustain high level of morale among German population despite of grim outlook of the war. Also, they inseminated the hatred into German minds not by the way of direct agitation, but by elimination from the (cinematic) world they created. It is extremely devilish of Gobbels to come up with such a total control of minds of German people.

The moment a person is conscious of propaganda, propaganda becomes ineffective.

- Josef Goebbels

This was also true with Japanese Empire. And the events at Fukushima made us realized, after all those years, we are still under the spell of media control.
Once you control the mind, you control body - life itself. Welcome to the world of Ultimate Weapon. 

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